The RLT32AB20 is a puzzling product: it looks good, it offers a lovely picture and caters to home-cinema owners with separate speakers, but it's not HD Ready and doesn't have Freeview. So who's it for?
Relisys LCD TV releases don't register on the AV radar like a new Sony or Panasonic, but the release of its first models last year was successful enough to warrant an upgrade. True to form for a brand you might never have heard of, the company is targeting the lower end of the market with flat screens in a variety of sizes.
This 32-inch is the flagship model for the company. It has some nice features -- the speakers are detachable so you can get rid of them if you have a home-cinema system, and there's a variety of picture-processing modes to deliver a solid, detailed picture. However, most consumers probably won't even bother finding all this out when they see the TV isn't high-definition ready -- something that isn't beyond the scope of budget LCD TVs, as was amply demonstrated by the ViewSonic we recently reviewed. With HD services now only a scant few months away, lack of compatibility is enough to write the TV off completely.
Physically, Relisys' TV has a lot in common with the big-name competitors that the company is hoping to undercut. It has a solid silver finish, a desktop stand and speakers that detach from the side. It's something we've not seen before on a 32-inch LCD TV, but it's very welcome. Call us AV fascists, but anyone who gets to the 32-inch LCD level and isn't using a surround-sound system isn't getting the best home cinema experience.
Connectivity is good, but the Relisys designers have made a few strange decisions. First of all, there's no composite video input, not something that we'd normally complain about thanks to its poor quality, but it's useful to have if you want to connect an old iPod Photo. The annoying thing is that there's no Scart adaptor included in the box to rectify this oversight -- Relisys should have gone the same way as Philips with its 26PF5520D where, without component video inputs, there was a VGA adaptor included instead.
The other sore point on the AV front is that the DVI input isn't HDCP-compatible. In order for a TV to be given the 'HD Ready' badge, it needs to be 'High Definition Content Protection'-approved, because it will theoretically prevent you from copying content without authorisation. Sky has announced that HDCP compatibility is a prerequisite to receive its services, and Blu-ray/HD DVD could follow suit. We honestly thought we'd never see another non-HD Ready TV, but it seems Relisys is still catching up.
Otherwise, it's all pretty standard around the back of the RLT32AB20, with two Scart inputs (one RGB), component video inputs and a VGA terminal for a computer. If you want to output audio to a home cinema, you can also do this via stereo connectors on the back of the TV. We're used to reporting how cheaper TVs always boast cheaper remotes, but we were pleasantly surprised by the Relisys. The dull grey colour doesn't do it any favours, but the keys are logically laid out and all accessible with one thumb. There's also a red LED to let you know it still has battery power.
While the RLT32AB20 has plenty of features, the missing link is one that is likely to turn most people off immediately. While the panel itself is high-definition compatible, and the component and DVI inputs can accept a high-definition signal, the DVI port isn't HDCP-compatible. This means that the TV lacks the all-important 'HD Ready' badge, as it will not support Sky HD.
It's also a shame, if not a catastrophic one, to see a 32-inch LCD that doesn't have an integrated Freeview tuner. Many manufacturers boast about their 'Picture in Picture' modes, but we think they spend far too much time in spreadsheets to understand that nobody uses it in real life. Regardless, the television supports PiP and 'Picture out of Picture' -- the latter splitting the screen exactly in half. It's also worth noting the screen has a very wide viewing angle -- only 6 degrees wider than normal, but bigger than any other LCD we've seen. The screen also has an anti-glare coating, meaning that it looked good even in our bright office lights and windows.
The panel sitting inside Relisys' slinky frame is made by LG-Philips, and damn fine it is too. It's a native 1,366x768-pixel resolution, meaning that 720p material is perfectly suited to the display, but 1080i can still be scaled down. And while the TV won't support Sky HD, you'll be able to plug in an Xbox 360 via component and VGA and enjoy a solid and colourful picture. The only problem is the response time -- Relisys' propaganda claims that it has a 'Super Quick' response time, but at 18ms we'd say that it was tardy.
The TV is devoid of any fancy names for its picture processing -- it seems that only the bigger manufacturers want trademarked technologies such as 'Active Vision' and 'Wega Engine'. Relisys' comb filter aims to give better colour reproduction and deeper blacks, while 'motion-adaptive deinterlacing' analyses signals from sources such as digiboxes and DVD players and aims to make any motion smoother. On the audio front, there are no such frills, though -- the speakers are Nicam Stereo but don't feature SRS WOW or Virtual Dolby technology.
Relisys' panel is capable of pictures that are very pleasing on the eye. Setting it up with our Dell XPS 600, loaded to the gunwales with high-definition video, it was sharp and detailed, and we can't wait to play Xbox 360 games on it. Even more impressive is the standard-definition video playback. We hooked up a Freeview box via RGB Scart, and even though the picture was interlaced, it was solid and artefact-free during movement. Relisys' motion-adaptive deinterlacing means some fancy post-processing goes on when the picture is received by the TV.
And even though the speakers are detachable, they are surprisingly capable of creating an impact. They produce a total of 20W power -- not enough to bring any real bass to Bad Boys 2, but they're responsive when it comes to treble, providing the ambience necessary for most dramas.
Edited by Nick Hide